photography for beginners

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PhotoTube Update

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Sorry for not posting much during February. I’ve been spending most of my time working on PhotoTube.info and I’m starting to see results. For one thing, it now contains over 800 instructional photography videos. Be sure to check it out. Here is a list of current categories and the number of videos in each category:

Review: Digital Landscape Photography

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Summary: I highly recommend Digital Landscape Photography by John and Barbara Gerlach. If you are at all interested in landscape photography, get this book! Digital Landscape Photography covers cameras, lenses, exposure, composition, HDR, and panoramas.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. Landscapes are Everywhere
  • Chapter 2. Cameras and Accessories
  • Chapter 3. Choosing and Using Lenses
  • Chapter 4. Mastering Exposure
  • Chapter 5. Techniques for Sharp Images
  • Chapter 6. Light on the Landscape
  • Chapter 7. Composing Pleasing Images
  • Chapter 8. Special Subjects
  • Chapter 9. High Dynamic Range Images
  • Chapter 10. Panoramas

Review: The chapter on cameras and accessories emphasizes investing in a camera system not just the camera. The authors recommend Canon and Nikon cameras because both brands have an excellent selection of lenses and accessories. This is the same advice that I give my students. The book is filled with excellent tips such as how to use a back button to auto-focus rather than having the shutter button initiate the auto-focus function. 34 out of 36 customer reviews on Amazon, give Digital Landscape Photography 4 stars and above with 26 5 star reviews. This is an outstanding book that is clearly written and informative. Click to continue »

Practice, Practice, Practice

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
My Take: Practice is important! As I found out recently, even an experienced photographer can feel awkward after a period of inactivity.

What Does Practice Mean When It Comes to Photography?

In sports or almost anything else one learns there is a period of practice or apprenticeship, a time of learning. I’ve said before that one needs to take lots of pictures as part of the learning process. But like anything else try and do the ‘practice’ part correctly.

If someone were to drill scales on the piano but started off and kept going while doing them incorrectly they would have drilled an incorrect procedure into their muscle memory. The same could be said for a sport like ballet or martial arts. Hundreds, even thousands of hours are spent repeating certain motions in these arts until they become natural, fluid and if not effortless and least they look effortless.

Elite athletes continue to do basic drills. You can watch professional hockey players drill puck handling and skating. Professional musicians will practice their scales and new songs over and over and over. An Olympic level gymnast makes it look so easy. But the hours of practice that go into the routine to make it look so effortless, most of us could not even imagine.

But there are gradients to everything. And one should learn while one does. I see many people taking reasonably good photographs that with a few minor tweaks could be improved considerably. Part of this is working with one of your main tools, your camera. A lot of photos that I see posted are slightly washed out. Most cameras have a setting whereby you can adjust the contrast and brightness. If you have a camera with this option (check the menu), then try a couple of hundred pictures with these functions adjusted. See if you like them better.

Read the rest of What Does Practice Mean When It Comes to Photography.

Photography Tip: Levels

Friday, November 11th, 2011

You may have noticed the bubble levels on your tripod and tripod head. Use them! Each serves a different important function. The following is a list of level and tripod related tips:

  • The level on your tripod itself is used to ensure that your tripod doesn’t fall over. If you are using your tripod on uneven ground and the legs are different lengths, the level can be used to center the center column of the tripod over the legs which centers the weight of your camera over the legs so that the tripod will be less likely to tip over. If the tripod is level, the center column will be perpendicular to the ground.
  • Another important tip for your tripod is to always have one leg toward the lowest ground. Let’s say that you have positioned your tripod on a hill with the camera pointed up the hill. One tripod leg should be toward you rather than two legs. The single leg toward you will be more stable and the tripod less likely to tip over. The tendancy is to always have two legs toward yourself so that it is easier to approach the camera. This is the time to not do that.
  • Add weight to your tripod. I know, you bought a carbon fiber tripod so that it would be light and easy to carry but, while shooting, you may need some extra weight to keep it from moving. Tripods often have a hook on or near the center column of the tripod. I have a backpack camera case that I hang under my tripod.
  • The bubble level on your tripod head is used to ensure that your camera itself is level.
  • If you shoot a lot of landscapes, you will want to invest in one more kind of level. It fits in the hotshoe of your camera and can be more accurate than the round levels attached to your tripod head. I use a hot shoe level to make sure that the horizon is level. There are times when I am taking long exposures at night and I can’t even see the horizon. I use the level to make sure the camera is level and I know the horizon will also be level in the photograph. I only need to illuminate the level to see it, not the subject. Works great and I highly recommend that you get one.
  • For panoramas, you can use the hotshoe level to ensure that your lens is parallel to the gound. That is what I do when I am using my Rokinon Fisheye Lens to take a 360×180 degree panorama. I mount the camera on a Panosaurus panoramic head and make sure the tripod is level, the head is level, and finally that the camera is level and the lens is parallel to the ground. If everything isn’t level, software such as Hugin will have difficulties stitching the shots together. Click here to read my article about using a Panosaurus panoramic head to shoot a 360×180 degree panorama.

Landscape Photography Tips and Tricks to Achieve Professional Results!

Friday, October 28th, 2011
My Take: This is a good article that starts with 10 tips for beginners and ends with 10 tips for the more advanced. The suggestion of focusing 1/3 of the way into a scene may or may not work — the aperture that you select and the length of your lens will determine depth of field. The desktop app for The Photographer’s Ephemeris is free but the iOS app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch is $8.99. Unlike PhotoBuddy, The Photographer’s Ephemeris includes the direction the sun and moon will be from your current location and even corrects the times for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset according to your elevation.  To give a greater sense of depth, include something in the foreground, middle ground and background. For the advanced suggestions, I agree with exposing to the right but you should also turn on the “blinkies” so that you can easily see which areas are blown out. The author doesn’t mention the tip that I think is most important — experience everything. For instance, if you are going to take photos of the sunset, get there at least an hour before sunset and plan on staying about an hour after. Take photographs throughout the event. It is amazing the different colors that fleetingly appear. Amateurs say, “Oh, pretty.” Snap and they’re off to shoot something else. Professionals linger, enjoy the show, and capture everything.

10 Tips and Tricks for the Beginner

1. Shoot close to sunrise and sunset to achieve more balanced exposures. Shooting during the harsh daylight produces very contrasty light and is difficult to capture details in both the shadow and highlight areas. If it’s one thing you take away from this guide it should be this!

2. Compose an image to exclude more and include less; remove any element that does not add to the image. Simplicity is often the key!

3. Shoot in RAW format for maximum quality if any post production editing will be performed later. This is really a big deal! Click to continue »

Article source: http://ezinearticles.com/6627432

Portrait Mode for Canon Digital Cameras

Sunday, June 26th, 2011
My Take: The tips in this article apply to any digital camera with Portrait mode. Portrait mode opens up the aperture so that distracting stuff in the background is out of focus and the subject becomes the focal point.

Portrait Mode is a simple to operate exposure selection on our Canon EOS Rebel T3. Like the Green Zone, a Rebel T3 set to Portrait Mode will make almost all of the decisions for the photographer. In fact, other than the shutter button, none of the override buttons or dials will function with the camera set to this mode. Click to continue »

Article source: http://ezinearticles.com/6372491

Review: Hoodman 3.0 Hoodloupe

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Summary: OK, so I feel a little dorky having the Hoodloupe hanging around by neck but I don’t care because it makes it possible to see my LCD in the brightest sunlight. Click to continue »

Enhance Google Searches for Photography

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Google has a new service to enhance Google searches.

In order to use Google Subscribed Links, you must create a new Google Account or sign in with an existing Google Account.

Review: Serif’s PanoramaPlus X4

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Summary: In a word…fantastic! Creates correctly aligned panoramas from photos that stumped Hugin and Photoshop. PanoramaPlus X4 creates horizontal, vertical, and 360×180 degree panoramas. Click to continue »

Learning Photography

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Tips for learning photography:

  1. This may seem overly simplistic but the best way to learn photography is by taking lots of photographs.
  2. Read your manual. Digital cameras have lots of settings and some of them may be hidden deep in the menus. If you don’t read your manual, you might never discover the important ones.
  3. Experiment with settings. One of the great things about digital photography is that you can take pictures until you fill up your card then delete the pictures and  start all over again at no additional expense. Take advantage of this by taking lots of pictures.
  4. Click to continue »